A new pandemic could strike at any moment, the woman responsible for the UK's Covid vaccination rollout has warned.
Dame Kate Bingham, who has responsible for procuring the jabs used to inoculate the population against the last health crisis, has urged governments around the world to prepare for an unknown disease to suddenly rear its head.
Writing in a national newspaper this morning, she said the world may need to once again provide mass vaccinations.
"The next major pandemic is coming. It’s already on the horizon, and could be far worse — killing millions more people — than the last one," she wrote.
WATCH: WHO warns 'we must prepare' for next pandemic
"We don’t yet know for certain what form it will take — just that its arrival, according to global health experts, is not just a possibility but a probability.
"That’s horrific enough. Even more terrifying is the fact that Britain and the rest of the world have so far done very little to prepare for it."
Her concern of future viruses came ahead of the publication of her new book The Long Shot, which outlines how she procured the Covid jabs rolled out across the UK population in 2021.
Calling for urgent action, Bingham said that the world should sign up to a "Global Pandemic Treaty" to share information among scientists and clinicians to help speed up the manufacturing of new vaccinations.
Dame Kate Bingham said the exact form of the new virus is still unknown
She warned in the Daily Mail: "To combat Disease X — as the World Health Organisation ominously calls it — we will once again need vaccines to be engineered and delivered in record time.
"But, as things stand, there is absolutely no guarantee that will happen.
"By contrast, we may well look back at the Covid-19 crisis as a walk in the park — and of course it was nothing of the kind."
While admitting that there was no known virus that was of particular concern at present, Bingham said that it was the very fact that the next threat was unknown that should concern governments the most.
"So far, scientists are aware of 25 virus families, each of them comprising hundreds or thousands of different viruses, any of which could evolve to cause a pandemic," she said.
"Worse still, they estimate there could be more than one million undiscovered viruses which may be able to jump from one species to another, mutate dramatically and kill millions of human beings."
In the wake of the Covid pandemic, the UK Government set up the UK Health Security Agency which is responsible for public health protection and infectious disease capability.
It is tasked with "protecting every member of every community from the impact of infectious diseases, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents and other health threats".